Move over, Kim Lung and Wah Lee: there’s a hot new destination for Asian food in town! Disappointingly not actually called “Yes” (as in: “Is that a new restaurant in Brandon that I see?” “YES!”), Ye’s Buffet has very recently started calling 18th Street home. Located across from The 40 and beside Lady of the Lake in a large, red building impossible to miss, Ye’s provides a somewhat sophisticated twist to Brandon’s standard approach to the buffet dining experience and Asian cuisine.
While most people can enjoy the majority of Chinese buffets for their selection and albeit greasy stereotypical collection of westernized Asian staples, Ye’s challenges Brandonites to think differently. Perhaps the most startling culinary choice is their negligence to provide guests with fortune cookies, an oddly refreshing prospect. Maintaining classics like spring rolls, sweet and sour chicken balls and chow mien noodles, Ye’s offers guests a plethora of other spiced meats, exotic salads (including crab salad and seaweed salad, both of which are worth your while), tantalizing deserts, noodles, sashimi, maki, and sushi and necessary fixings, all under the umbrella of a standard lunch buffet.
Sushi was prepared right before your eyes by a trio of chefs busily wrapping and rolling seaweed and sticky rice behind the sushi bar (a section of a train of buffet bars stretching across the length of the building), and the sushi available ranged from popular California to Red Tuna to Spicy Red Dragon Rolls (all fantastic). The somewhat scattered seating arrangement nonchalantly accommodates large crowds and ridiculously long line ups both at the door and along the buffet bar. High ceilings and the lack of solid walls eases any possible feelings of claustrophobia due to the steady flow of people moving about, while simultaneously implying some sense of privacy.
To stake their claim, provide closet Asian food fanatics an excuse to re-emerge, and establish a following, Ye’s offered fifty percent off their entire menu on their opening day, and twenty percent off throughout the following week (January 13-20). As a result, the lunch buffet for two people was around $25, an unbeatable price in Brandon if one demands both westernized Asian classics and sushi (which, yes, I do). Even The Sushi Hut’s $17 all-you-can-eat lunch deal can’t compete.
Staff was courteous, handling the swarms of hungry patrons with grace and ensuring the buffet table was never empty. Although prices are subject to change once their first week on the market expires, Ye’s definitely packs a punch in terms of getting what you pay for, both in dining experience and fine cuisine. Ultimately, however, and perhaps contrary to the aforementioned statement, The Sushi Hut is the best solution to calming your wild and unruly sushi cravings that, yes, everyone is liable to experience and indulge in eventually. But while the novelty lasts, and until I cease to grapple with the reality that sushi and a top-notch dish of chow mein noodles are being served side-by-side in Brandon of all places, Ye’s is definitely worth visiting again, a splendid break from the mundane cooking scene in my kitchen.
Rating: 4 inappropriately giddy “Yes!”’s out of 5.
Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 103, Issue 18, January 22, 2013.